London: A new cholesterol-busting injection, which could save the lives of millions, is being hailed as a potential breakthrough in the battle against heart attacks and strokes.
The medical world has been stunned after trials of the hoped-for miracle jab on volunteers found nearly three-quarters of a harmful form of artery-clogging cholesterol simply disappeared.
The experimental treatment, being developed in America, could be invaluable to those who have an intolerance to statins, the most commonly prescribed drug to combat high cholesterol.
The jab is still in the early stages of development and is unlikely to be available for at least four years but its early potential has excited medics.
“This is a very exciting development as it appears the drug has remarkable potential for helping lots of people with high cholesterol,” the Daily Express quoted James McKenney, the chief researcher, as saying.
“Every cardiologist who has seen the study has said, ‘Wow’.
“We know the more you reduce a patient’s bad cholesterol the better the chances of reducing coronary risk.
“If all goes well we should be able to reduce heart disease in a very substantial fashion. We are highly expectant but we are not there yet,” he said.
People most at risk from harmful low-density lipoprotein (LDL) include those who have a high-fat diet, smoke and do not exercise.
Doctors recommend keeping blood levels of total cholesterol – essential for producing hormones and absorbing food – at a very low density.
One in five patients is resistant to statins and for many others even high doses do not sufficiently lower cholesterol.
The new drug, codenamed REGN727, has been developed from a class of medicines known as monoclonal antibodies or MABs, already being used in the fight against cancer.
It homes in on a protein known as PCSK9, stopping it from attaching to LDL and leaving it free to filter out unwanted fats.
The potential for a “holy grail” drug more effective than anything else on the market was so far-reaching that two major US companies, Sanofi US and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, joined forces.
The trials were conducted by Virginia-based private medical research company National Clinical Research and the results presented to the American College of Cardiology.